Monday

I think WE are up at the crack of dawn, but by the time we wake up, Russell is already dressed and getting something to eat. I get a quick shower, then wake Jim, who’s lazy ass is still in bed instead of trying to get things ready. He wakes Brighid, who throws her clothes on, and then she wakes the other two girls and we get them ready. Figuring they will fall back to sleep in the car, we don’t feed them, and we have to return the rental car to the airport before we can be on our way, so Jim and I head out to try and get the paperwork to return the car done before Russell can make it to the airport. On the way to the airport, Jim asks if I packed his razor, and I did not, so we have to stop at Walgreens to get a razor and shaving cream. That gives Russell the opportunity to pass us and he beats us to the airport. When we finally get there, of course Jim has a problem with the return, he ends up standing at the counter on the phone with a manager, until I come up behind him and tell him we HAVE TO LEAVE NOW. Russell has been waiting, and it’s time to get on the road.

We stop at a rest area on the turnpike and the kids grab breakfast. Eilis and Granuaile get french toast sticks and the rest of us grab something from Starbucks. That holds everyone until we get to another rest stop, where we all hit the bathroom before making the rest of the trip down to Miami. We are at the port around 11:30, which is just about when we can start checking in.

Up until now, Eilis and Granuaile do not know where we are going on this vacation. When we pull into the port, Eilis made the comment that she was going to be Sea Sick – not sea sick, but sick of the sea 🙁 That was disappointing. Granuaile wants to go home. Another disappointment. I am hoping that when we get onboard, and Eilis gets into the kids club, she’ll feel better about the vacation. Granuaile is just going to have to get over herself.

Sunday

We still have to be up early, as we have to be at the airport at 8 AM. We are in the car and out the door in plenty of time, and we stop to grab a coffee on the way. Yay.

We arrived at our gate and I think Holy cow, this is great! We are here super early! I’m so proud of myself for getting everyone out the door on time, and then I find out that the gate has been switched. We have to go to a whole ‘nother terminal. Off we trudge, me and the girls, because Jim went to return the rental car and hasn’t gotten back yet. We find the new gate, and Granuaile is thirsty, so I set off to find orange juice, since they are eating Tastykakes for breakfast. I find juice in the magazine shop, and head back, then head off to the bathroom. As I am walking that way, Jim turns up, and after I get back from the bathroom, he and I go grab a couple of bottles of water and some magazines. It’s only a few minutes until we board, and we are really the second ones on the plane, behind one handicapped woman. Jim and Eilis are supposed to sit together but she would rather sit with Brighid, so Jim switches. Granuaile has a mini-meltdown, as only she can do, but just a few minutes into the flight, she is soundly sleeping. That makes the trip so pleasant!

Our arrival in Orlando is about 20 minutes early, and as soon as we are off of the plane, Jim heads out to get the rental car and the girls and I grab the bags. We meet him out front, and our first stop is to try and find Eilis a bathing suit at the oh so many bathing suit shops we will find in Orlando. I have it on good authority that WalMart is the place to go, so we head to the one just down the street from Downtown Disney, because I have it on second good authority that if there isn’t a suit at WalMart, there will be one at one or more of the shops at Downtown Disney.

Once inside WalMart, I quickly find the bathing suit section. They have a handful of suits in Granuaile’s size, a larger selection of adult suits, and only one Eilis’ size. We end up trying on a few junior sizes on her, but none fit properly. No worries. We are headed to Downtown Disney, and there is really little else that would make me as happy as a stop there will.

We find a parking spot fairly quickly, considering this is the middle of the day and Downtown Disney. The first stop we make is at the I DO NOT REMEMBER THE NAME OF THIS SHOP. There is a large selection of adult swim suits that are pretty pricey, so I send Brighid over to the Wonderful World of Disney to see if they have any suits before I invest an enormous sum of money into a bathing suit that may not fit Eilis by summer. No go. She does a thorough search and checks with a salesperson and they have no suits. We end up with a nice suit, although we spend nearly $100 on it – yes, that is not a typo.

I do not get nearly my fill of Disney on this way too brief trip, and I’m tired and hungry besides. We leave DTD and call Jim’s mom to let her know we are going to grab lunch before we head to her house. We head to the Taco Bell at the Crossroads, and enjoy an outside table while we eat lunch. After lunch, we decide to take a ride out to University of Central Florida, so Brighid can see the school campus. It’s about an hour and 10 minutes by the time we get there, and we drive around the campus before heading back out and going to Jim’s mom’s in Poinciana. WHEW! We’ve done so much driving today, it feels like we DID do a full day’s drive from Jersey!

We settle in, order pizzas, and get all the paperwork in order for the trip. Jim and Russell pack up the car with everything that can be packed and the kids get their showers. I turn in, and Jim soon follows. It’s another very early morning – we have to be up at 5 AM!

Saturday

So Saturday rolls around.  I get up, as I usually do, around 6:30.  I go downstairs, check my email, load the dishwasher with the few things that were used the night before, and wake Jim.  He goes downstairs, sees the mountain of unfolded socks, towels, and underwear on the love seat and says we are not leaving until the mountain is folded and put away.  Does he offer to help with that endeavor?  No, he does not.  He settles down in front of his computer to play his game, and I know that if he did not have a game he was interested in, we would be in the car by 7 AM.  I tell him i have at least 3 hours worth of clothes folding – this is, after all, a MOUNTAIN of socks, and socks are so difficult for me.  Eilis, Brighid and I wear nearly the same size.  Eilis still has some socks that are similar to Granuaile’s.  I hate sorting socks.  He wakes Brighid to help me, and eventually, the other two girls come down and interfere with the process.  It takes me 2 hours, and I finish at about 9 AM.

While I am sorting socks, as I said, Jim is gaming, so the car does not get loaded.  He later complains that we should have finished packing the night before so he could have loaded the car, ignoring the fact that we were done packing by 1 AM the night before, and he could have loaded the car.  He waits until we are done sorting socks to get dressed himself, and then Brighid and I get Eilis and Granuaile dressed.  Jim then decides we have packed incorrectly, and some rearranging needs to be done.  He wants nothing in the bag for the cruise except what we are taking on the cruise, and nothing in the other bags except what is NOT going on the cruise.  We are supposed to have a bag to stay overnight, with clothes that we will put on Monday morning as we leave for the cruise.  We have to have the stuff we are going to put on Saturday and Sunday when we are off of the cruise.  And we have to do all of this without letting the other two kids know we are going on the cruise.

So FINALLY at about 10 AM, all loaded in the car, we head to Starbucks to grab my coffee.  On the way back from Starbucks, we stop back at home to retrieve the belt I forgot to pack for Jim, who didn’t want to help pack.  We are not officially on our way to Florida until just about 11 AM.  The plan is to stop for the night just before we hit Georgia, and continue the last leg of the trip on Sunday.

And then the fighting starts.  The girls, all three in the back seat of a rented Grand Marquis, are fidgeting, arguing over space, and overall just crabby.  So Jim says, “I wonder how much airfare is to Orlando.”  A quick call to US Airways, despite my protests that it’s a holiday and airfare is going to be outrageously high, Jim finds airfare to Orlando for $59.  At just a few minutes shy of Delaware, we turn the car around, race home, and book airfare to Orlando, leaving on Sunday.  Brighid and I spent the day Christmas shopping, and we all got a good night’s sleep at home 🙂  What a great way to start the trip!

They Call Me….Granuaile

We new Granuaile would be a girl before she was born.  Jim, Brighid and I played with a lot of names – well, Brighid and I played with a lot of names, but Jim felt like he had final veto power over any of the names we chose.  I prefer very traditional Irish names, and spent a lot of time at this website, which features Frank McCourt pronouncing the Irish names for baby.  http://www.babynamesofireland.com/

My sister, Bean, who’s real name was Frances, died on March 7th, 2003.  I knew that I wanted to incorporate the name Bean or Frances into the baby’s name – whether the baby turned out to be a boy or a girl – but I don’t so much love the name Frances, and Bean, well, that’s just odd.  I decided Frances would be the baby’s middle name – or Francis if it was a boy (don’t tell Jim, who was convinced that if there was a boy, he would have been named Junior), and then set out to find something meaningful for a first name.

I loved a lot of the names I researched.  Aoife was one of my absolute favorites, and I think if there had been one more baby girl in our future, there might have been enough time to convince Jim that I should be able to use that name.  Pronounced Ee-Fa, the name means “beautiful, radiant, and joyful”.  Who wouldn’t want their baby girl to have a name that means all those wonderful things?  But that strong handed veto came down hard on Aoife.

Brighid has a CD of a band called Blackthorn, and one of the songs they perform is called “Granuaile”.  It’s an homage to Grace O’Malley, the pirate queen of Ireland, but the first two lines of the song is where the idea to name the baby came from.

“She was small, but what a sight!  Men were wrapped around her finger tight.”  I could just see our beautiful, tiny baby girl, doing what her two sisters before her had accomplished within minutes of their births – wrapping her Daddy around her little finger.  And to further convince me that Granuaile should be her name, the name itself means Grace O’Malley – and O’Malley is my Grandmom Fee’s maiden name.  I loved that woman to pieces, and Eilis’ middle name is in tribute to her, but how nice would it be to honor her even further?

Knowing that Granuaile is a mouthful for anyone – let alone a small child learning to speak and learn their name – a conversation was had where the family agreed that the baby would be called Granuaile Frances, and her nickname would be Gracie Bean.  It was cute, it was doable, and we all agreed.  Even the birth announcements were sent out with “Gracie Bean” in quotation marks underneath the name Granuaile Frances.  And Jim printed out those announcements.

Now, this amazing little creature is 3 and a half years old.  She’s been called many things in that short time, but only her father has consistently called her Granuaile – when he is not calling her JR Super Baby (JR came from his desperate desire to have a Junior).  Most of the rest of the time, she’s been called Gracie.  She even calls herself Gracie.

As she gets older, though, and closer to school age, her father becomes more adamant that we should use her real name.  And Granuaile becomes more resistant.  To begin with, it’s easier to say Gracie.  She can say Granuaile, but only the immediate family will know that’s WHAT she is saying (it comes out sort of like “Gwon-well”).  And she will have full blown arguments with her father over her name.  If she wants a treat or a snack, he’ll say, “What’s your name?” and she’ll answer “Gracie”.  And the battle begins, continuing until I step in, grab the snack out of Jim’s hand, and hand it to the baby.

So I stopped in at work the other day to pick up a few meals for the kids.  My boss has not met my daughters, but I brought them in with me so Brighid could choose the meals.  As grown ups will do with small children, my boss leaned over and asked Granuaile what her name was.  Nine times out of ten, she won’t answer at all, and on the tenth time, she’ll say Gracie.  But this was Monday morning, just hours after a weekend with her father calling her Granuaile.  So when Roseann leaned over and said, “And what’s your name?”, my little girl looked back up and said,

“My father makes me say Granuaile, but my name is Gracie.”

And it makes me reminisce about the days when then 4 year old Brighid demanded to be called “Pansy”.  No reason. It just sounded good.

Thanksgiving Vacation Planning Events

After deciding we were not going to be able to take the trip to Vero Beach that I had planned due to the uncertainty of his contract at work, Jim surprised the whole family, including his mother and Russell, by calling on the phone late one night from Minneapolis, telling us he wanted to go on a Thanksgiving week cruise.  He had seen an advertisement, and Carnival was running specials that started at $139 per person, and he thought it would be a great idea for us all to go.  Well, of course, by the time we chose a cruise we actually wanted, minimizing the time out of school for the kids, maximizing our time to just relax and not feel pressure to book excursions and visit exotic ports, we ended up actually paying on average about $350 per person, but that was reasonable enough to book, so we did!  We are off for 5 days to Key West and Cozumel, having our turkey onboard the Carnival Imagination!

I did very little planning for this trip.  I really expected this to be the kind of vacation I’ve heard other people have – you know, where you go, you sleep late, you order room service, you lounge in pajamas, catch up on your reading, and just enjoy not having to do anything.  So, with only one formal night on a very casual cruise line, I expect to just throw some stuff in a suitcase and be on my way.

As the day draws closer, I realize that Eilis has gotten tall over the past couple of months, and her bathing suits, which were really close to not fitting over the summer, are way too short.  I am assured by several sources that in Florida, bathing suits grow on trees, and will be readily available when I arrive, so I put my mind at ease about Eilis having to skinny dip in the middle of the ocean.  Then I come up with the idea that during that formal night, I can have the girls dressed in holiday attire and get their Christmas picture taken without the agony of trying to get a photo taken during the holidays at Sears or Penney’s.  That requires the rest of us to be equally as festive in our attire, so I am now scouring malls for Jim’s Christmas tuxedo accessories.  They want an outrageous amount of money for a one shot deal when I look at tux shops – like $99 for a vest and bow tie.  Russell finds a cummerbund and bow tie for just about $20, and I tell him to get one for Jim also, so he does.  I also end up picking up some things while I’m out shopping for myself – since I have to be ready almost as soon as I get home to take with me on my trip to Disney for the Moms’ Panel training, so it ends up being an expensive pre-trip week or so.

The plan is originally to leave Friday after school with the kids, drive as far as we can, finish the trip on Saturday morning, then spend Saturday evening and Sunday at the theme parks.  Well, this being the weekend before Thanksgiving, I start to anticipate traffic is going to be heavy, and additionally, if we leave right after school, we are going to hit some heavy duty Washington D.C. traffic.  The urgency to get everything packed is gone now that I feel like I have an extra day, and I putz around, do things I don’t really need to do, wash every article of clothing in the house, and take my time.  As a result, at 1 AM Saturday morning, Brighid and I are just finishing packing.  But, everything is at the door, we are ready to go, and the plan is to leave whenever everyone gets up on Saturday.

2009 Walt Disney World Moms Panel Update

I know, I know!  I posted in rapid succession there for a little bit about the goings on of the Moms Panel, but there hasn’t been much to report lately!  I am flying down to Orlando, arriving at 12:39 on Friday, Dec. 5th.  We’re staying at the Coronado Springs Resort, and we have a pretty full itinerary – but it’s been very vague so far!  I’ve filled out all of the legal documents that were required, and now, we’re just waiting to go!

The 2009 Moms Panel has a Facebook site that we’ve been communicating through, and I have to say, these are an awesome bunch of people!  I love them all so far – and we’re all so different, except for our love of Disney!  It’s been great getting to know them, and when we arrive at WDW, I’m sure it will feel like a reunion of old friends.

So, I haven’t forgotten to fill you in – there just isn’t much to fill with!

But the Greatest of These is Love – Proposition 8

I try so hard to avoid controversial things when I blog.  I set out to be a mommy blogger – talking about my kids, what we do as a family, where we eat when we go out, etc.  Every once in a while, I post something that might be a little controversial, but I try even harder to avoid the big topics. 

Then I realized that I might be doing a terrible disservice – to myself, and to the people who might listen to my opinion.  I’m not on an egotistical trip, thinking that people are waiting with baited breath, hanging on my every word.  But if my opinion is out there, heard, read, and considered, maybe it can join the other opinions trying to make the world a better place.

I do not live in California, so Proposition 8 maybe didn’t have as big an impact on me until it was passed.  Propostion 8 basically amends the California state constitution and states that “marriage” as we all know it is restricted ONLY to heterosexual couples – a man and a woman.  Unions between couples that are not heterosexual cannot be considered marriages.

To quote a line from one of my favorite movies, “And everybody’s okay with this?”  We’re talking about banning love, people!  I’m not saying people can’t meet, date, and fall in love if they are gay, but what this says is they have no legal recognition for that love.  There is no justice of the peace, no ’til death us do part, no piece of paper that no matter what anyone says DOES mean something.  That piece of paper means that you have fallen in love, trust that person with your entire life, and want the same right as everyone else to have that love validated and recognized. 

Who are these people who want to steal that passage of love; that God given right?  Who are you to say that because you are a man or a woman who happened to fall in love with someone of the opposite sex, you are automatically exclusively entitled to the benefit that goes along with that love? 

And even more surprising is the number of African Americans who voted FOR Proposition 8.  What the hell is that?  You, who have spoken out so passionately about equal rights, civil rights, discrimination, were right there at the front of the line DENYING for others the things YOU fought for and won.  Slaves were not legally allowed to be married – do these people KNOW that?  Why would you want the same hateful discrimination perpetuated on another group in our society?

Allowing gay people to marry does not diminish my marriage, the meaning of my marriage, or the sanctity of my marriage.  How could it?  How does allowing love to spread adversely affect the love and union my husband and I share?  It seems to me it could only enhance the atmosphere of love throughout our country.

It’s a sad day when hate wins over love. It’s sad for all of us – straight, gay, lesbian, black, white – for everyone.  Take a step back, people, and think about what Jesus really WOULD do in this situation.  Would He cast stones?  Would He preach hate?  Would He use scare tactics about what gay marriage would do to the sanctity of marriage itself?  No.  He would teach love.  He would tell us to do unto others as we would have them do unto us.  He would tell us to love one another.  And that’s all.  Yes on Proposition 8 gives people permission to continue to narrow mindedly hate others.  And I’m sorry 52% of California felt obliged to perpetuate the hate.

I wish they did Gay days at Disney World later in June.  I would so be there, teaching my children that a family means more than a mom and dad.  It means love, unconditionally.  For everyone.

2008 Christmas party planning – step 1

This year it will be a simple affair, as shown in the picture attached. Jim and the kids will do all the work and I will mingle around all day, and end the night with a foot massage, back rub, a hot cup of tea, a pumpkin scone and a nice night of undisturbed sleep in a new pair of warm Christmas flannel PJ’s

Step 1 – start seeing if we are going to have a Christmas party. This involves Jim asking me if we are going to have a 2008 Christmas party around December 1st, after I’ve been asking him since July 1st.

Step 2 – We are having a 2008 Christmas Party!!!!

Step 3 – I ask Jim what to do and he tells me “Um, go read your Christmas party blog entries from the previous years”

I am on Step 3 now….unless reading about the earlier parties reminds me of how much work they are and we just order Dominoes

Which is my best picture?

Please take a moment and reply here to this post and tell me which picture you like best.  I have to have a photo for my bio at the 2009 Walt Disney World Moms Panel website, and apparently, they want to know what I look like!!  Thanks,

Anna